What are you to do? ... You've been told countless times by various instructors or magazines or the Golf Channel to keep your head down or still ... or NOT &%$# . Its all too confusing really.
I think my journey in learning about head and really spine motion can really help you . It started way back in 1991 when I really had a chance to play every day and was fed up with lifting my head during my swing. I was looking through the classified ads in Golf Digest I think and came across a little ad for something called a "head stabilizer". It was a unique contraption that promised to keep my head down etc and I think it was only $15 bucks or something.
I sent away for it and what showed up was a little plastic rectangle that you could clip onto your visor and if you looked through it you could keep your head down and see how you were moving. It came with absolutely no instruction. When I tried it I could see it was in fact allowing me to keep my head down but at the end of the day i just couldn't see my self being able to play in public wearing it at all. So i thought to myself how could I create something simple that would achieve the same thing as this rectangle ?
I got to thinking and through a little trial and error cut out a little paper circle that I taped to the inside of my sunglasses. I started to wear this pair of sunglasses / circle all the time when i was practicing and playing. And like i said i played every day ...
Over the course of that summer playing everyday my game got remarkably better ... in fact I probably dropped 20 strokes from my score. I thought at the time i had invented the solution to the golf swing!
As we all know only too well though I really hadn't. And the other reality is that i really didn't know a damn thing about the golf swing except that from personal experience I had gotten a lot better using this idea. What was this circle doing ?
The $64,000 question which I've probably spent the last 27 years trying to answer during my own play and teaching for 23 years! And I think I finally have the answer...
Its not really about keeping your head still ... Its about helping you control your posture when you're swinging. I'll explain what I mean in a bit but first you have to be aware that visual trainers for the golf swing are NOT new. Nor is the concept of using something visual to help you with your golf swing.
Without getting into legal trouble showing you pictures of alternatives here are links to five companies selling visual training systems that you can buy today that will help you with your golf swing.
And there are other companies as well with even more elaborate electronic systems that will give you visual feedback on head and posture for your swing. So what I discovered all those years ago was not a new idea ... but perhaps a novel and really convenient way to practice posture control.
Now my idea of putting a circle on your glasses pre-dated a lot of these companies attempts at teaching the same concept and more importantly way more simply. You can literally grab a reinforcing ring from your desk drawer or your nearest staples and experience the concept of visually starting to control your head motion.
I thought it was such an important idea that I wrote the eBook you see below called "How to Keep Your Head Down" and published it in 2013. It outlines how you can use a reinforcing ring or something similar and start to get a lot better at your golf swing. Its done really well and to date has sold over 10,000 copies.
But don't buy it ! - In fact don't buy anything I've mentioned above!
You know that line "You don't know what you don't know? Truer words were never spoken when it comes to the golf swing.
With my first hand experience teaching and using the Circle concept over the years and later my Igides GPS system I thought I had it all figured out. Boy was I wrong. And I think everyone else has been wrong too - but right from their perspective. What? ... what do you mean Jack? Let me tell you about my "Matrix" moment.
In preparation for releasing my new Igides GPS training system I decided that it would be a really good idea since I am a golf pro if I could be more accurate at telling you about correct head and spine motion besides the general idea that " you should keep your head still" or whatever vague sayings you might hear. I researched online for everything I could find on other golf professionals opinions about head motion etc and came across a study done by a fake internet pro analyzing 25 golf swings for head motion etc. At the end of the analysis he boldly says that some pros keep their head still and others don't ... so its ok to move maybe. REALLY? ... its 2018 and that's the best we can do?
So I started out with the idea of doing my own Head / Spine motion study with 50 PGA tour swings. As you get to know me I can be a little OCD about doing something well and the study expanded to 100 golf swings with 75 PGA men and 25 LPGA women. Might as well look at the very best of both sexes 😉
I got to the end of analyzing all of the swings and after jotting all of the swings details and motions etc I couldn't be any more specific than the same 25 swing study I mentioned earlier, and I said this isn't good enough.... there had to be a predictor of head and spine motion in the golf swing. In other words why do certain players move their head and spine in certain ways?
Now I've been teaching golf for a long time now and over the course of time have come to realize that there are some pretty major differences between golf swings that I see both in person and online.
The major motion differences I've seen and taught can be broken into four (4) separate categories. You're either a Hitter or a Swinger and you're either a Simple Turner ( or rotation) or a Dynamic Turner ( or rotation). So basically you're only one of four possible swing or as I call them throwing types or styles. To learn more about the four throwing styles and which one you are please visit here
The four throwing styles or types are Simple Hitter (SH) , Simple Swinger (SS) , Dynamic Hitter (DH) , and Dynamic Swinger (DS).
When I started to look at the 100 swings I'd studied previously and break these swing / throws into these major throwing styles I started to realize that I could predict exactly a players head and spine / body motion. Even better I could easily look at swings outside the study and categorize them quite easily as well. It was a Eureka moment !
And each one of these four styles or throwing types has their own distinct head and spine motion for that type - please read that again. In other words your head and spine motion is based entirely on the swing/ throwing style you have or are learning.
This explains why some people believe that the head should stay absolutely still why others say it should move ... again they are both right based on the swing / throwing style they know or observe
Here is a breakdown of all 100 PGA/LPGA Players into the Four Throwing Styles
* note that you'll see the swings grouped together in 70/30 and 50/50 categories - what does that mean? The degree to which you move your head /spine off of the original set up position is based on two factors – one the swing style you have and two how you load your weight in the backswing … are you a 50/50 loader or are you a 70/30 loader. If you’re a 70/30 loader you will naturally shift farther off of the ball ( loading 70% of your weight on your back foot) …if you are a 50/50 loader it is much easier to stay centered and appear to keep your head from moving laterally backwards.
Head / Spine Motion Patterns
Simple Hitters (SH) and Dynamic Hitters (DH);The most level throws / Swings are Simple and Dynamic Hitters.
If you turn your body back and through without using your lower body for power there really isn’t much of a height change in your swing (depending on how you shift your weight forward that is) and its fairly easy to stay level throughout your swing. Perfect examples of this type of swing would be Annika Sorenstam or Karrie Webb for the ladies and Greg Norman and Bryson DeChambeau for the guys.
Simple (SS) and Dynamic Swingers (DS);The Most common pattern if you are a Swinger is to Lower your Head/Spine in the backswing (from 1 to 3 inches) and then lower it even further as a direct result of your lower bodies leg drive to create power.
In both groups Head and Spine motion is also affected by how they choose to load weight into their back swing. Are you a 50/50 loader or are you a 70/30 loader. If you’re a 70/30 loader you will naturally shift farther off of the ball …if you are a 50/50 loader it is much easier to stay centered and appear to keep your head from moving laterally backwards.
SH LP 50/50 25 * 70/30 29 (Simple Hitters Loading Pattern ; 25 Golfers are 50/50 and 29 Golfers are 70/30 )
SH - Dustin Johnson loading his weight 50/50
SH -Luke Donald loading his weight 70/30
DH LP 50/50 12 * 70/30 1 ( Dynamic Hitters Loading pattern ; 12 Golfers are 50/50 and 1 Golfer is 70/30 )
DH - Bobby Jones loading his weight 50/50
DH - Lorena Ochoa loading her weight 70/30
SS LP 50/50 13 * 70/30 13 ( Simple Swingers Loading pattern 13 Golfers are 50/50 and 13 Golfers are 70/30 ) – SS that have a 70/30 loading pattern would be seen as having the greatest amount of Head /spine motion of all throwing types
SS - Louis Oosthuizen loading his weight 50/50
SS- Hideki Matsuyama loading his weight 70/30
DS LP 50/50 3 * 70/30 4 ( Dynamic Swingers Loading pattern 3 Golfers are 50/50 and 4 Golfers are 70/30)
DS - Michelle Wie loading her weight 50/50
DS - Adam Scott loading his weight 70/30
53 50/50’s and 47 70/30’s ( 53 Golfers loaded their weight in the back swing 50/50 and 47 Golfers loaded their weight in the back swing 70/30 )
While it would appear based on the result that 50% of golfers load 50/50 and 50% load 70/30 that you could choose whatever loading pattern you'd like based on comfort BUT it really depends on your chosen Throwing Style.
For example if you've decided you want to be a Dynamic Hitter fully 92% of Dynamic Hitters load their weight 50/50 and I'd recommend you did that too.
Each style definitely has its own pattern and if you are learning that pattern you had best learn that patterns head and spine motion to have the greatest success within that throwing form.
Its more important to find your natural / correct throwing motion / style and then based on that choice learn the matching head and spine motion pattern that throwing motion or style has. More importantly you’ll want to use a smaller Igides Swing Window if you’re a 50/50 loader as you won’t have nearly as much lateral head and spine motion as a 70/30 weight shift throwing style.
So what can we say about all of the patterns ?
The amount you move back is going to be based on your weight shift and the amount of dropping and dipping will be related to how you shift your weight to the target ( swinger versus hitter)
Simple Hit Pattern - This is the simplest movement pattern and the most level. A 50/50 loading means very little lateral head motion back.
Dynamic Hit Pattern - This is the next simplest pattern but involves more rotation. As mentioned earlier fully 92% of golfers studied are 50/50 weight loading and would also have very little lateral head motion back.
Simple Swing Pattern - This pattern has the most motion studied with dipping happening loading as well as further dipping into the downswing. 50/50 weight shift Golfers still have less lateral motion with their head but much more vertical motion which can't be overdone. This exact same pattern happens for Dynamic Swingers as well but with more rotation with their bodies as well.
Now these are the general Patterns for all four swing / throw types but now you have to find out what type of throw style or type YOU are... to start that process go here